Dwarven Forge, creators of high quality dungeon and gaming terrain, recently launched a new video series entitled ‘Build of the Month.’ Once a month the folks over at Dwarven Forge post a video on youtube showing off a build created with their products, then post a fully detailed description of the room for gamers to check out free on their website. It’s hoped that these encounter areas inspire gamers to create new builds, traps, and puzzles for their players, while showcasing the versatility of Dwarven Forge.
The first ‘Build of the Month,’ Urge to Dirge is a multi-stage, musical trap room that my kids and I think is amazing. Haha. Urge to Dirge makes use of pieces from three Dwarven Forge Sets: Starter Dungeon, Passages-Intersections, and Double Doors. To see the build in action, check out the video below. To get the full build instructions and encounter details click here.
They’re obsessively browsing the Dwarven Forge website, and watching their many youtube videos. My son takes every opportunity to bring it up, attempting to convince me I should buy him some for his birthday, or for my birthday, or maybe my husband’s Christmas gift.
So when my son asked if he could download the free Dungeon of Doom Adventure a while back, I let him. And when he asked me over and over if I had read it yet, I pushed it up a little higher on my to-read list.
You see, I like Dwarven Forge, but when it comes to adventures, I tend to prefer a sweeping story over a classic dungeon. And the Dungeon of Doom adventure? Seemed like one big deadly dungeon.
Which it is. But, turns out, it’s also awesome! Haha.
I finally got around to reading the adventure and was pleasantly surprised. Every encounter area is well planned, well executed, and exceptionally creative –– all things I expect from Dwarven Forge. There’s some basic plot hooks to get the adventure moving, but not much else. On the surface, at least. There’s much more going on in this dungeon delve than anticipated, as the PCs will uncover as they adventure.
If they survive.
Dungeon of Doom is packed full of layered, multi-stage traps and puzzles that work to create a deadly challenge for the PCs. It’s smart, clever, and surprisingly funny! There’s a wide array of NPCs you can meet and interact with in the dungeon, from ghostly spirits, to chatty gargoyles and, my personal favourite, a talking door. The PCs have plenty of secrets and history to uncover through their exploration, and a lot of powerful treasure to claim. But, as previously mentioned, this is definitely a deadly dungeon! For starters, the dungeon itself drains your PCs life force, making taking a long rest impossible. PCs will need to complete the entire dungeon with relative speed or they’ll run out of resources. In addition, characters that die have their souls trapped within the dungeon and rise as an undead spirit known as a maerghast. Not a desirable end! Along the way the PCs will need to collect magical artifacts known as glyphstones, which are powerful semi-intelligent artifacts which affect the PCs personality and behaviour, but grants them potent magical powers –– some of which can allow players to heal or gain the effects of taking a long rest. But, the greatest challenge is definitely the dungeon itself. As I previously mentioned the encounter rooms are packed full of well-utilized, challenging puzzles and traps which I absolutely adored. It’s deadly, but a lot of fun.
The Dungeon of Doom Adventure is a free download here, and is intended for characters between the levels of 1 and 10. Each challenge is written for three difficulty levels, based on your party’s APL (average party level). APL 1–4, APL 5–7, and APL 8–10, with the variable numbers (DCs, Damage, and so on) separated by a slash. For example DC 12/14/16 or 1d8/2d8/3d8 damage. It’s easy to understand and efficient. Monsters are instead listed on a chart, with the composition of each encounter being determined by your party’s APL. Level 1 parties might face off against a quasit while a level 10 party might face a nalfeshnee in the same location. The adventure is written for 5e Dungeons and Dragons, but has rules in the back for running it for the Pathfinder RPG (which is awesome!). Those of you interested in investing in Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon of Doom products can buy the pieces needed to make the Dungeon of Doom on a room by room basis on their website, while the adventure contains detailed build guides to show you how to set it all up. You can also watch Dungeon of Doom played or see a run-down of the rooms on youtube.
Dungeon of Doom is a deviously deadly dungeon full of interesting puzzles and traps, perfectly suited to challenge players of a variety of levels. I found it absolutely inspiring! I highly recommend you give it read!
Like its counterpart the Starfinder Critical Fumble Deck is the size and shape of a deck of playing cards. It retails for around $10.99 USD (or around $15 Canadian dollars). There’s a space goblin with a shattered d20 on the box and card backs, with some product information on the back of the box.
The cards inside are high quality and easy to read with a colour scheme matching the Starfinder Core Rulebook and the Critical Hit Deck. There’s fifty-five cards inside. One contains product information, the open game license, and cites Owen K.C. Stephens as the author and Taylor Fischer as the illustrator. The second card lists the rules of using the Critical Fumble Deck. And the other 53 cards are Critical Fumble Cards.
All of the cards follow a specific set of rules laid out on the rules card. You’ll also need to decide ahead of time how to use the Critical Fumble Deck. There’s three methods presented although its suggested you use the first, which sees critical fumbles occur rarely. I prefer to get a lot of use out of my cards, though, so we use the third option in my house: a natural one is a critical fumble if is also misses the targets AC.
The cards themselves work just like the Critical Hit Deck. When you roll a critical fumble you draw a card. Each card has four different critical fumble effects. One for energy attacks, one for kinetic attacks, and one for spell attacks. The fourth critical fumble effect is an ‘extreme blow’ and lists a single specific damage type (such as bludgeoning or fire). You simply read the card, select the critical fumble effect that matches your damage type, and carry out the effect listed. If you happen to deal the exact same type of damage as the extreme blow you use that critical fumble instead.
There’s lots of entertaining critical fumble effects. Some of my favourite effects include burn out (energy), look at the pretty colours (energy), unscheduled dance-off (energy), so much blood (kinetic), spectacularly stubbed toe (kinetic), caster’s block (magic), not what I meant to do (extreme grenade), sword in the stone (extreme melee), and nailed in place (extreme piercing).
Got a favourite critical fumble card? Let us know in the comments!
Wizards of the Coast has just announced its newest Dungeons and Dragons campaign, Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus! The announcement was made during its D&D Live: The Descent event in L.A. Beginning in the incredibly popular town of Baldur’s Gate and descending into Avernus (the first level of Hell), this 256-page campaign takes players from level 1 to level 13. Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus is scheduled to make its debut September 17, with the Beadle and Grimm’s Platinum Edition scheduled for release in October.
For more information on this diabolical campaign, check out the video below, or click here for a full list of the D&D Beyond interviews regarding this campaign on youtube.
For more information on Beadle & Grimm’s Platinum Edition of Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, click here. Only 1000 copies of the Platinum Edition will be made, and yes, it’s expected to sell out. This weekend only (May 18th – May 19th 2019), the Platinum Edition is on sale for $449.00 USD (from it’s full retail price of $499.00 USD).
Against the Aeon Throne is a shorter campaign than most. Typically six books in length, this Adventure Path is only three. It’s a great change of pace that will allow the folks at Starfinder to tell shorter, more personal stories. In addition, this three part length makes it easier to purchase and play through an entire adventure path. It’s awesome for gift giving and the budget conscious! Six books is a huge investment, but three? Well, that’s a lot more manageable for those of us without much extra cash laying around. On the other hand, with the three book format I feel like I blinked and the whole adventure path was over. I didn’t get my hands on the first book until the third came out and I missed the Signal of Screams Adventure Path completely. In general, it’s both easier to collect and easier to miss. Although I enjoy the three book format, I also enjoy the six book format, so I hope they continue to rotate between the campaign lengths.
So what exactly is Against the Aeon Throne: The Rune Drive Gambit all about? In previous adventures, the PCs defeated an Azlanti military force that had annexed the small colony of Madelon’s Landing on the planet of Nakondis. But saving the fledgeling colony was just the beginning. The PCs discovered that an experimental starship engine and their friend, the android Cedona, were transported off of Nakondis and back to the Azlanti Star Empire. Giving chase the PCs made some allies and rescued Cedona. All that’s left is to find the experimental starship engine, steal it or destroy it, and escape with their lives. Along the way they’ll fight Aeon Guard soldiers, rescue captive scientists, and face off against the man responsible for sending troops to Nakondis in the first place! No problem! …Right?
Now, let me take a moment to be clear. The Azlanti Star Empire is a pack of giant, pompous, jerks. They’re great villains for the PCs to clash with, but an overwhelming opponent. This adventure path does not send your PCs off to take down the entire Azlanti Star Empire. It’s much smaller in scale than that. And frankly? I love it. It lends a sense of suspense to the series and makes it feel like you’re playing real people in a living breathing world universe doing what they can, rather than heroes so powerful they change the whole world universe. It’s a wonderful change of pace and scope. It’s got a very Firefly / Star Wars feel to it.
But, before we get into that too much, let’s take a look at the book itself. Starfinder Adventure Path #9: The Rune Drive Gambit (Against the Aeon Throne 3 of 3) is a softcover adventure written by Larry Wilhelm that is 63 pages in length. It’s intended to take players from level five to level seven. The adventure itself is around 39 pages long, and split into three main parts: With Friends Like These, in which the players upgrade their ship and figure out where the heck they’re going; Within Enemy Territory, in which the players travel to and explore the upper levels of a secret research facility located in an asteroid; and Scientific Theories, in which the players finish exploring the research facility, track down the rune drive, and decide what to do with it. After the adventure there’s six pages of ideas on how to continue the campaign after it’s conclusion, with eight short ideas, and two detailed ideas that include a stat block or two. After that there’s an eight page primer on the Stewards, including two character archetypes. There’s seven new creatures in the Alien Archive, and a short Codex of Worlds article on New Thespera, heart of the Azlanti Star Empire. Lastly, the inside front and back covers feature information and a layout for a tier 5 starship: the Vanguard Regnant.
My favourite parts of this adventure are the layout, enemy tactics, and defences of the research facility, and the NPCs you unexpectedly discover along the way.
Before we continue with a more in depth look at the book, let me point out: there will be SPOILERS.
You have been warned.
For starters, I love the look of this book. I like the colours and the layout. The text inside is easy to read and the colours are easy on the eyes. The cover art is wonderful. It showcases Sardat Zolan Ulivestra, an Azlanti nobleman and enemy of the PCs, as drawn by Anna Christenson. Behind him is an awesome image of Obozaya (the iconic vesk soldier) and Quig (the iconic ysoki mechanic) fighting off Azlanti soldiers.
The starship showcased on the inside covers is a Vanguard Regnant. This tier 5 small light freighter is destined to be the final (or second last) enemy the PCs face in this campaign. It’s a well-built luxury ship that’s fast and maneuverable, but still packs a punch. I particularly like the ship layout.
After that we hop right into the adventure itself. This adventure starts in Outpost Zed where the PCs (and Cedona) will need to get their ship upgraded by their friend Hasshachir, who they met in the previous adventure. While they wait they’ll run into trouble, which will ultimately provide the PCs with the clues they need to determine their next destination. We won’t talk about these events any further, as it would ruin the surprise for those of us reading this who ignored my spoiler warning. (You know who you are! Haha). What I will say, is that I enjoyed this section of the adventure.
Which brings us to part two of the adventure: Within Enemy Territory. In this section PCs will need to travel to Aurelos, the secret laboratory the rune drive was taken to, find a way inside, and explore the upper levels. Along the way they’ll have to take on the base’s defences and protectors. As previous mentioned, I was really impressed with the layout of the Aurelos base, both the upper levels featured in this section, and the lower levels featured in the next part of the adventure. It’s functional and easily defensible, and is populated with enemies who know how to use their surroundings. There’s a few complications and other defences to round out these encounters, and an enemy is introduced that I rather enjoyed.
Which brings us to part three: Scientific Theories. In this section the PCs finish their exploration of Aurelos, fighting off further enemies and surmounting further challenges. Along the way they’ll have the chance to meet quite a few NPCs (potential friends and enemies), question scientists, explore science labs, and try to figure out what the heck the rune drive is and why it’s so important. Then they’ll have to figure out what to do with it and attempt to make their escape. They’ll face off against the mastermind of this whole debacle, Sardat Zolan Ulivestra, alongside some of his loyal (or not so loyal, depending upon your PCs actions) minions. Finally, they’ll have to engage in a starship battle to make their escape!
Part Three is fun, dynamic, and exciting, with plenty of people to interact with, challenging encounters, and a dilemma or two. I really enjoyed Evandrian, an Aeon Guard the PCs are destined to combat multiple times, and the Sardat’s statistics and tactics. He’s the perfect mix of pompous and skilled. I think PCs are going to really hate him. Haha. He’s a great villain. Finally, I like that some of the encounters in this section are open ended. There’s more than one potential outcome, and the choice ultimately rests in the hands of the PCs, either knowingly or through their actions. On the other hand, Part Three is also where I have some issues. There’s really only one thing to do with the rune drive. It’s cool, and it makes sense, but there’s clearly no real alternatives to the option presented. Which is unfortunate. Also, that option? Wow, it’s… complex? It’s logical, both in terms of the story and in terms of Pact Worlds implications. But I was also left wondering why it also does… some other stuff that seems tacked on. Cool stuff! But odd. I’m being vague, I know, but you’ll understand when you read it. Haha.
Which brings us to the end of The Rune Drive Gambit and the Against the Aeon Throne Adventure Path. But, that’s not the end of the book. Up next, as previously mentioned, is a lot of ideas for how to continue the campaign. There’s eight minor ideas here, some of which will lead to short adventures, and others which could form the basis of long, epic campaigns. I know my family will want to head back to Nakondis to help out the colony there, so it’s nice to see a few options that deal with the Madelon’s Landing. Other ideas involve the Stewards, the Azlanti Star Empire, and even transitioning into the Signal of Screams Adventure Path (definitely not the option my family will be using, but it’s nice to see it in print). There’s also two longer campaign ideas. One is a direct continuation, which makes a lot of sense, and I’m very likely to make use of. The other is both awesome and out there! I love it! But, it’s way too confusing to run with my kids (which is who I’m currently running through Against the Aeon Throne). If any of you make use of Kellixtrian I’d love to hear about it.
Following this is an eight page primer on the Stewards. Basically the peace-keeping force of the Pact Worlds, the Stewards are warrior diplomats that are organized into four main branches and run by a Director-General. The branches are Constabulary (the police force), Ops (the spies), Overwatch (the starship fleet), and Conclave of Legates (veterans who act as a council and advisory board). This section describes the Stewards origins, history, structure, leadership, purpose, bases, training regimen, and interests. It also presents two new archetypes, the Stewards infiltrator (an ops agent) and Stewards stalwart (self-sufficient agents that often work alone). Both of the archetypes are useful and very cool! I’m really glad the Stewards are getting some attention, as they are a powerful organization that can be utilized and interacted with in a wide variety of campaigns. They’re very usable.
The Alien Archive is up next, which is always one of my favourite sections of an Adventure Path. It contains seven new creatures, three of which are featured in the adventure itself. The creatures include: power archon, a CR 5 outsider tasked with destroying corrupting technology; carnivorous crystal, a CR 11 ooze that can turn you to crystal; comanide, a very creepy looking CR 7 fey; entropy slug, a CR 4 magical beast the PCs will face in part one of this adventure; hulsa, a CR 10 fey; Azlanti battle robot, a CR 6 robot the PCs will face in part three of this adventure; and twinsoul, a very strange CR 8 creature also featured in this adventure.
Finally, there’s a short, one page Codex of Worlds entry on New Thespera, the heart of the Azlanti Empire and seat of the Aeon Throne. It’s an incredibly useful article, but very brief. New Thespera’s the sort of important place you could write pages of information on.
This Mother’s Day my kids wrote me poems and stories, drew me pictures, cards, and books. My son even made me a coaster to hold my drink. And my husband? He and my children got me character art commissioned for my favourite Pathfinder Society character!
I’ve never had character art for a character of mine before. My kids and I have drawn pictures of some of our characters on occasion. And sure, a picture here or there might inspire us to make a character similar in appearance. But custom professional art? Unheard of! So it was with great shock and surprise I awoke to discover my family had somehow procured gorgeous art of my beloved -1 PFS character.
Clearly I have a wonderful family and am beyond spoiled. Today I’m going to share that art with you!
Introducing Danicka Raburnus and her vicious dog, Prickles!
Danicka Raburnus was my very first Pathfinder Society character. My -1. I had played Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and other RPGs for a long time before making Danicka, but she was the first character meant for organized play. She marked my entry into the Pathfinder Society, and was the first in a series of wonderful characters, delightful roleplaying, and exciting adventures.
Danicka is… far from perfect. When it came time to create Danicka I wanted to do something different. Everyone has characters who are attractive, intelligent, healthy, brave, and so on. People who are special. Heroes. They’re not all perfect, and many have a flaw or two, but they usually have quite a few redeeming qualities. I’ve got plenty, myself. So when it came time to make Danicka I wanted to create a character who was different than those I’d made before. Someone who wasn’t a hero. Who wasn’t special. Someone hopelessly flawed and regrettably forgettable. Someone who wanted to be special, who wanted to be the hero, but just wasn’t.
I have a soft spot for making, strong, independent, female characters. I love playing half-orcs and dwarves. I love bards, rogues, oracles, and sorcerers. Adaptable characters with a flaw or two, and a bit of a scoundrel’s streak.
So I went out of my way to make Danicka different.
I made her a wizard, which I rarely do. And I went out of my way to make her as unremarkable as possible. She has an archetype that prevents her from having a familiar or an arcane bond––qualities that make her feel inferior to her fellow wizards and spellcasters. She learned spells that are visually unremarkable. No fireballs or flashy magic for this girl! She was intelligent and wise, but too shy and nervous to speak her mind.
I never use complimentary words to describe her. I don’t call her pretty, or fit, or athletic, or slender. She’s not even skinny. She’s scrawny. Boney. Her hair is frazzled, limp, plain, or mousey. Her skin is not like porcelain, or alabaster. It’s pale, freckled, and ink-stained. Her clothes are nice but ill-fitting, out of fashion, and in dull colours. She doesn’t show off any skin, covering herself from neck to fingers and toes. She doesn’t even wear nice boots, just flimsy cotton shoes that flop and squelch wildly whenever they get wet. She wears a floppy hat on her head. She has poor vision and wears plain spectacles.
It’s not that these qualities are undesirable or unattractive. They’re not. It’s that I designed her to be average and blend in, and that I describe all of her qualities in as uncomplimentary a fashion as I can.
She shrieks in battle. Gets queasy. Stammers, stutters, whimpers, and whispers. Her efforts to make friends are awkward and almost always end in failure. She’s shy and meek. Easily scared (often terrified!). She faints on occasion (though never in a way or at a time that would hinder her mission or the game). She’s weak, awkward, and extraordinarily clumsy.
But amidst all those awkward and oddly endearing qualities, she’s a hero. Not outwardly. Certainly not obviously. But she’s a good person. She won’t take a life. Ever. And she won’t condone it from her allies. In fact, wanton violence, destruction, theft, and other illegal deeds are among the only things that she’ll speak out against. She’d rather remove an enemy from a fight than cause someone harm. I gave her merciful spell as a feat to ensure her few damage dealing spells aren’t lethal. She’ll stabilize unconscious enemies, hurl herself into danger to protect someone else, and is always the first person to offer healing potions to the wounded. She’s generous and kind. She won’t lie and always gives her enemies a chance to surrender.
So, who was Danicka? Where did she come from? And what make such an ordinary, meek woman want to be a hero?
Danicka was born to a hero. Her mother, Portia Raburnus, was a wizard of great renown who helped saved the city of Magnimar not just once, but on three occasions. Danicka has always wanted to be just like her mother, and grew up studying the arcane arts. Her mother passed away five years ago, right before Danicka began her formal training at the local magical academy, Stone of Seers. Danicka always keeps her mother’s arcane bonded item with her—a highly decorative quarterstaff that looks remarkably like a broom. She had hoped to use the broom as her own arcane bonded item, but could never manage to make it work.
Danicka did well in school, but despite her academic achievements she was constantly overlooked—for Danicka was ordinary looking, and incredibly shy. Regrettably forgettable. Most people don’t even remember Portia Raburnus had a daughter.
Danicka’s recently graduated and set out to finally prove herself brave and bold! A hero, like her mother! She marched right into the local Pathfinder Lodge and demanded a job. Unfortunately, her demand came out a nervous whisper and they hired her as a maid. But, sweeping the floors used by bolder souls with her mother’s broom isn’t enough for Danicka Raburnus! She’s going to prove herself one day! Maybe after she’s done cleaning up the common room…
Danicka is incredibly shy. She speaks rarely, and when she does its in a whisper. She’s constantly trying to work up the courage to be louder, to make friends, and to do something, but her attempts at friendship always come out in awkward stuttering bursts, and her attempts to speak her mind end up with her randomly yelling something (and then losing the courage to finish). She’s easily embarrassed and was bullied on occasion in school (when her classmates could be bothered to remember she was there).
Danicka studies hard and loves to learn new things. She knows she’s a young woman of many flaws and is trying desperately to change. She wants to be brave and bold, but has yet to break out of her shell and really be herself.
Mechanically, she’s a wizard with the exploiter wizard archetype that’s a member of the Silver Crusade faction of the Pathfinder Society. She took the traits tireless logic and volatile conduit. Her beginning feats were eschew materials and merciful spell, although she later added spell focus (enchantment). She’s knowledgable and speaks a wide array of languages. For her first exploiter exploit she chose energy shield, although she never had the opportunity to use it until many adventures had passed. Some of her most commonly prepared low-level spells are daze, detect magic, read magic, comprehend languages, mage armour, shield, sleep, and merciful ray of frost or merciful magic missile. In time she learned that outsiders and undead were a threat her non-lethal methods couldn’t handle, so she started carrying a lethal wand, a few lethal scrolls, and some holy water around to combat such irredeemable threats.
I had intended to keep her a wizard for the entirety of her career, but along the way, things changed. Danicka changed.
After Danicka’s first mission in the world of play-by-post gaming, she was invited to join an ongoing campaign run by the delightful and incredibly talented GM ShieldBug. For a wonderful seven scenarios she had the pleasure of playing in a consistent group of awesome players. Her companions were very different from Danicka. Some were weird, some were liars, some were scoundrels, and most were violent. They pushed her buttons, shoved her out of her comfort zone, tested her morals, and urged her to change. With them she found her backbone. She found courage. She faced peer-pressure and discovered that there were things worth fighting for, even if it meant standing up to your allies. She made friends. She made enemies. She made mistakes. She became a hero. She saved people and towns.
Mostly, she was embarrassed.
But it wasn’t only Danicka that changed. Her friends did, too. She made them better people. And they made her brave.
On one of her adventures she was forced to interact with terrifying, man-eating, Thuvian desert dog. Miraculously she bonded with it, though it terrified her to no end. Later in the scenario she was forced to face the dog in combat, and she managed to convince him to stand down. The mission came to an end and I was faced with a turning point. Move on? Or keep the dog?
Danicka kept the dog. She named him Prickles, for his spiky fur (matted with the blood of his enemies) and terrifying demeanour. Although I could have just bought a dog and remained a wizard, I chose to multiclass Danicka into druid. I selected another understated archetype (the wonderful wild whisperer!) that removed some of the flashier of the druids abilities and replaced it with investigator’s inspiration and talents. She began to take ranks in handle animal, and survival. She used her druid spell slots to prepare healing magic. She took the feat boon companion, and statted up Prickles as a wolf.
Danicka spent the next while attempting to tame her vicious dog. I took great glee in role-played her fear of her own pet, and her worry that it will hurt someone. Prickles is clearly the alpha of the duo, but he usually listens to Danicka’s pleas. That said, out of fear, Danicka never tells Prickles to attack anyone. She’s too afraid she won’t be able to stop him from killing. Instead, she orders him to stay by her side. Mechanically, Prickles has the bodyguard archetype. He’s always on ‘defend’ and won’t enter a fight unless Danicka is hurt. However, if she’s hurt he flies into a rage and attacks whoever wounded her until they’re dead. Usually Danicka hurls herself between the enemy and her dog before they are devoured, but once or twice Prickles killed something––an event which filled Danicka with great regret. For his part, Prickles is used to his ‘pet’s’ panicked shrieks and mewling. But he’s incredibly territorial and won’t stand for anyone touching his ‘pet.’ Not even her allies. He’s a bit cantankerous, and won’t take ‘orders’ from anyone other than Danicka. And he only listens to Danicka if she begs.
All in all, they’re a comical pair, with my shy wizard desperately trying to handle her overwhelming pet.
On her most recent missions, Danicka’s had to bid her old friends farewell. She’s gone on new adventures with new teammates. Only Prickles has remained by her side. But, despite the distance, it’s her old friends that continue to drive her and inspire her. Mhazruk Kruhl and his terrifying familiar Needle, the burly Yaiho Crasher, the tap-dancing escaped-slave Forrest Glavo, the eccentric Arin Qualnoh blessed (or perhaps cursed) by the gods, and Brock Swiftread, a scoundrel if there ever was one. They’re the closest thing to family she’s ever had.
So here’s to Danicka and Prickles, and all the people and characters who have made her who she is. Here’s to the people who have GMed for her and played alongside her. The people who have put up with her panicked shrieks and bleeding heart. Here’s to my family, who brought one of my very favourite characters to life. And here’s to Joe Nittoly, the amazing artist who drew her. Thank you! Thank you! And thank you again! You’re the best!
And here’s to all of you, for taking the time to read about one of my favourite characters. Maybe I’ll see you around a PFS table one day.
Hello adventurers! Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This delightful softcover book from Paizo Inc. is packed with new character options from all around Golarion, sorted by location. The regions covered include Arcadia, Avistan, the Crown of the World, Casmaron, Iblydos, Garund, and Tian Xia. It also contains a lot of new options for occult-themed mythic heroes.
When I heard about Heroes of Golarion I was very excited. It immediately made it onto my (way too long) ‘wishlist.’ Why? For starters, this is the second-last Pathfinder Player Companion being released for Pathfinder First Edition –– a fact both sad and exciting! Second, I love the topic. I adore thematic character options, so seeing new archetypes, feats, traits, and so on from a ton of different regions is always enjoyable for me. But, it’s not so niche that I’ll have trouble getting to use the options inside. Third? Mythic rules! Now, I know not everyone is a fan of mythic rules. I like them, but even then, I don’t use them often. That said, I adore the occult classes. And you know what they’re lacking? Awesome mythic options! Sure, you could make something work with the current options, but it’s not going to be as great as it would be if you were a different class. And honestly? Of the mythic characters I’ve interacted with as a GM and a player, half of them are occult classes. Yeah. Poor things! Haha. So seeing some awesome mythic options for occult classes is pretty amazing. I’m thrilled it’s happening before Pathfinder First Edition comes to an end. And finally? Controversy! There are two sorcerer bloodlines in this book that I had already heard plenty about. I’ve heard people condemning them, and I’ve heard people praising them. Why? They both give the sorcerer the ability to use healing magic (or healing abilities). Now, I knew I would not be in the ‘sky-is-falling’/’it’s-broken’ group. I’m a pretty laid back player, and no, I don’t think letting a sorcerer get some ways to heal or healing spells is going to break my beloved game. But, I was curious to see how it was handled. Also? Pathfinder Second Edition has sorcerers that can heal. I like that these bloodlines act as a thematic bridge between First and Second Edition sorcerers. So how did I like the bloodlines? We’ll get to that in time! For now, let’s start at the beginning…
Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion is a soft cover book that is 32 pages in length. As a book in the Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players, which means that you won’t find a ton of world lore or secrets inside. Instead you’ll find character options –– things like archetypes, feats, traits, spells, and more. Heroes of Golarion was developed by Eleanor Ferron and Luis Loza. Contributing authors include Saif Ansari, Alexander Augunas, Mara Lynn Butler, Michelle Jones, Avi Kool, and Alex Riggs. The cover features dramatic art by Setiawan Lie which depicts a cleric of Kazutal and a cloaked adventurer armed with both magic and blade, combatting a tzitzimitl –– an incredibly powerful undead from Bestiary 3. Interior artists include Nathanael James, Craig Maher, and Marcel Mercado.
The front inside cover features a glimpse at some thematic documents from Golarion, including a recipe, travel documents, and other paperwork. All these documents are layered across each other, though, so you can’t read the full text on any. They’re intended for flavour, not player handouts or anything. Although interesting, it’s not useful.
After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction which contains a brief summary on Golarion, its continents, and other major regions. Each summary is a paragraph long and lists information on the region, it’s nations, and most common peoples.
Moving on from the introduction we come to our first region: Arcadia! This section contains two pages of new character options, and two pages on wyrwoods (which are most commonly found in Arcadia). Arcadian character options include four gun feats (all of which are useful), three jaguar-themed slayer talents intended for worshippers of the goddess Kazutal, and two legendary spirits for mediums from Valenhall (Adril, the Would-Be King, a Champion, and Father of Legends, a Marshal). Wyrwood options include two alternate race traits (check out experimental body), favoured class options, and eight new feats (my favourites were lifecrafting and sword’s shadow).
Up next are four pages of character options from Avistan and the Crown of the World. This section contains one archetype for bards, Speaker of the Palatine Eye. There’s some new options for mesmerists themed around exploring subterranean locations, including two new feats (I love them both), three new tricks, and three new bold stares. There’s five hilarious (and awesome!) feats for heroic goblins. I particularly enjoyed mental derail and piercing chant. Finally, there’s the frost shaman spirit, which is one of my very favourite character options in this book, and the unicorn bloodline. Yup! A sorcerer bloodline that grants you healing magic for your bloodline spells, and lets you heal a target of some hp whenever you cast a spell as your bloodline arcana! It’s amazing! Although some players argue it’s too powerful, or makes other healers less important, I think it’s going to be great fun. Plus, I love the theme! Who doesn’t like unicorns?
Leaving behind Avistan we get to Casmaron. Here you’ll find two pages of character options from Casmaron, followed by another four pages of character options from Iblydos, an island in Casmaron. Casmaron character options include holy beast, a shifter archetype that focuses on combatting outsiders, and plague eater, a spiritualist archetype that is haunted by the restless dead killed by plague. Although I adore the plague eater, it’s very tightly focused on resisting and healing diseases, so I’m not sure how much use I’d actually get out of it. Other options include the peafowl shifter aspect, and four Vudrani phrenic amplifications for psychics. Iblydos character options include an oracle curse called god-meddled which can be either a help or a hinderance, two new legendary spirits for mediums (Kelksimides the Hierophant and Psomeira the Champion), and a lot of witch hexes and grand hexes that I loved. Beast’s gift, combat hypnosis, swine, and animal servant are all among my favourites. There’s also priest of the fallen, a spiritualist archetype that channels the phantoms of various hero-gods, and the medusa bloodrager bloodline that I really enjoyed.
Up next? Six pages on Garund! Here you’ll find new gun options and ammunition for characters from Alkenstar, an investigator archetype called the Holomog demolitionist that focuses on destroying your surroundings and creating difficult terrain, eight new vigilante talents, six new arcanist exploits that focus on primal magic, and five new shifter aspects (elephant, giant wasp, horse, lion, and snapping turtle). There’s also the sphinx bloodrager bloodline, which I enjoyed, and two feats that allow characters to gain an intelligent magical beast as an animal companion. Along with these feats are five options for magical beast companions: basilisk, behir, bulette, death worm, and sun falcon. Tough decision, but I like the basilisk and sun falcon best.
With that we reach our final destination: Tian Xia. Here you’ll find four pages of character options, two of which are dedicated to new kineticist options! Of the new kineticist wild talents, eleven are utility wild talents, and only four are infusions (three substance and one form). These options are themed around clockworks, toxins, wind, and amplifying your race’s natural abilities. Although plenty of them are cool it’s the bolt form infusion and the various clockwork utility wild talents that I liked the best. But, there’s more than just kineticist options in Tian Xia. In these four pages you’ll also find a wide variety of alchemist discoveries themed around calligraphy and drawing with specially prepared magical inks. My favourite is living pigments, which lets the creatures you draw come to life! There’s also the spirit eater, a medium archetype, and the phoenix sorcerer bloodline! This thematic bloodline lets you do all sorts of cool things, like surround yourself in fire, grow wings of flame, and even come back to life! Perhaps its niftiest ability is it’s bloodline arcana, which allows your fire spells to heal your targets instead of harming them. Of course, these purifying flames don’t heal as well as they could burn… I love it!
Although that’s the end of our whirlwind tour of Golarion, that’s not the end of this book. Heroes of Golarion wraps up with one page of rules for occult mythic characters, and three pages of new mythic path abilities. These path abilities are all useful to, or themed around, the various occult classes and abilities. Although many are specific to a certain mythic path, some are universal, and can be chosen by characters following any mythic path. Although there are plenty of cool options for all the occult classes, it’s the mythic abilities intended for kineticists that I like best.
And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This book is packed full of cool new character options from around Golarion. In the end, it’s the frost shaman spirit, medusa bloodrager bloodline, and the phoenix and unicorn sorcerer bloodlines that I enjoyed the most. They’re all definitely going to see use in my house! And honestly? I don’t see why some players were worried over the sorcerer bloodlines. They’re going to be great fun.
But, even more than the character options, it’s the new mythic path abilities and supplementary rules that made this book worth the money for me. Although brief, these new options allow occult characters to make use of mythic paths as effectively as the other character classes can––an incredibly important addition to Pathfinder First Edition, that I’m relieved got to see print before Second Edition rolls around and it’s too late.
Those of you that participate in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play community will be happy to know that Heroes of Golarion is already sanctioned for use, with nearly all of the content in this player companion legal for PFS play! For more information, check out the Additional Resources on Paizo’s website. (And yes, for those of you excited or worried, both sorcerer bloodlines are legal for play. It’s going to be great!).
Thanks for checking out d20diaries! I hope that taking a peek at what’s inside this Player’s Companion helped you decide if this is the right book for you. There’s plenty of great books out there (and I know I’m not the only one who can’t afford them all!).